Al-Qaeda releases a tape said to feature Osama bin Laden praising this year’s uprisings in the Middle East and calling for more Muslim “tyrants” to be toppled.
Al-Qaeda and other militant groups have waged bloody but unsuccessful campaigns to topple these same rulers across the Middle East. By praising the revolts, bin Laden, who was killed in a US raid on 2 May in Pakistan, appears to be trying to make the Islamists relevant again.
The audio, which is 12 minutes long, is being carried by Islamist websites. In it, bin Laden praises this year’s revolutions in the Arab world and calls for the overthrow of even more Muslim leaders.
He says: “The Ummah always directed its face in expectation of victory, which began to show in the east and all of a sudden the sun of revolutions came from the west.”
Bin Laden calls on young Arabs to consult “those of experience and honesty” and to set up a framework that would allow them to “follow up events and work in parallel… to save the people that are struggling to bring down their tyrants”.
It's a moment of opportunity, as the White House put it - and one filled with uncertainty. As the sound of popular revolutions echoes across the Middle East, President Obama is seizing the chance to set out America's new relationship and promote democratic change.
Channel 4 News US politics analyst Felicity Spector evaluates Obama's options
He does not mention or advocate democratic rule, which was a key demand of protesters in Egypt, Tunisia and Bahrain in particular. Al-Qaeda figures usually pour scorn on western-style democracy, which they see as contradicting Islamic values.
Bin Laden makes no specific reference to Libya, Syria, Bahrain and Yemen, where pro-democracy protesters have had less success than in Egypt and Tunisia, but says Israel, reviled by many ordinary Arabs, is worried by the unrest.
"The Ummah always directed its face in expectation of victory, which began to show in the east and all of a sudden the sun of revolutions came from the west. The dawn of revolutions appeared in Tunisia, delighting the Ummah and lighting up the face of the people.
"Death came to the rulers and fear came to the Jews who realised their time has come. The fall of the tyrant means the fall of humiliation and the shame and fear and subjugation and it conjures meanings of freedom and glory and courage and bravery. Then the winds of change blew in search of liberation and Tunisia took the initiative and as fast as lightening, the knights of Egypt took a beam of light from the free ones of Tunisia to Tahrir square. Then a great revolution was launched and what a revolution! I think the winds of change will blow over the entire Muslim world, with permission from Allah."
Osama bin Laden
The recording’s release comes at a critical point in the relationship between those countries which have ousted long-term rulers and the western powers who backed them. US President Barack Obama is due to make a speech about US policy towards the Middle East, following on from China’s and Russia’s pledges of aid to the embryonic new regimes.
There are questions about US priorities in the Middle East, where its response to events in Libya has not been matched by its reaction to the uprisings in Syria and Yemen.
Click on the image above to read more about the Arab uprisings